During his tenure at the College of Communication and Information, Dean Michael Wirth has pumped several million dollars into high-tech classrooms in an effort to improve the educational experience of CCI students.

But for some CCI students, the pursuit of journalism, advertising and public relations took them beyond the classroom.

Some things are just better learned in New York City.

Last week, 28 journalism students and 24 members of the Ad Club traveled to the "City That Never Sleeps" to see the professional world of their respective disciplines. One of the year's largest storms – referred to in New York as "Snow-pocalpyse" – greeted the UT travelers with more than a foot of snow but failed to stop them from meeting the likes of Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric and more.

Ad Club

Led by Courtney Childers and Roxanne Hovland, both faculty members for the School of Advertising and Public Relations, the Ad Club students visited six advertising agencies, including Young & Rubicam and Scripps Network. Eight students also visited NFL headquarters to meet with Paul Hicks, executive vice president of communication and government affairs for the NFL.

Whether actually interviewing for internships or networking for future opportunities, the students had a peek into a life after Knoxville.

"It's definitely a learning experience, even as a senior," Lauren Gregg, senior in advertising and public relations, said. "It helps you know if you really want to live in New York."

Journalism classes

Led by Sam Swan, a broadcast professor, and Elizabeth Hendrickson, a magazine journalism professor, the journalism students met with top industry executives, including on-air celebrities.

"Honestly, when I saw Katie Couric, I cried," McKenzie Martin, junior in journalism and electronic media, said after the trip. "And Anderson Cooper was just so down-to-earth."

The broadcast students visited studios at NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS, CNN and the Food Network, capitalizing on alumni connections and the extensive professional network maintained by Swan, a former TV anchor in several Midwestern markets.

"The purpose of the trip is to expose broadcast journalism students to excellence at the national level," Swan said, adding that the exposure to major networks and cable news channels allows the students to hear from some of the best in the business.

"These visits and connections may lead to internships and jobs. That's why it is so important."

On the magazine side, eight students headed for sit-downs with editors at Vogue, Shape, Men's Journal, Lucky, Popular Mechanics, Real Simple and others, even meeting with Esquire Editor-in-Chief David Granger, a 1978 UT graduate. The editors offered tips for cracking into the small world of magazine publication, as well as insights to the editorial process and anecdotes from decades of personal experience in the industry.

Though their days were packed with tours and advice sessions, each journalism student got to see a live taping of a network TV show, including Good Morning America, the Jimmy Fallon Show, The Today Show and more.

Both UT groups met Tuesday night for an alumni banquet and networking opportunity. A small gathering of mostly young professionals in the city were greeted by Dean Wirth and his wife, Alice, a lecturer in Communication Studies. Patrick Powell, director of development for CCI, pitched the recent graduates on giving back to CCI so that it might continue to improve.

R.J. Vogt attended the trip with the magazine students.